What’s on

Film Season: Generations, Russian Cinema Of Change

Wednesday 26 September 2018


Defiant, expressive and electric, this season of cult and landmark films charts an extraordinary century of change in Russia.

The world’s largest country has undergone profound upheaval in recent history. Through it all, film has played an important role. This season explores the shifting forms of self-expression, independence and defiance through Russia’s seismic cycles of reinvention.

Click here to explore the full programme.

Generations: Goodbye Boys

Soviet Union, 1964, dir.Mikhail Kalik

A masterpiece commenting on the ill-fated futures of a group of boys on the eve of the WWII, from one of the great lost names in Soviet cinema.

Poetic opening scenes of summer days by the seaside portray three young friends blissfully sinking into shimmering water, completely naive of forthcoming events that will change their world forever. As the boys learn they must fight in World War II, they talk of defending the Motherland, and bid farewell to their parents.

One of the ‘unrehabilitated’ Soviet directors, Mikhail Kalik juxtaposes images of innocent youth against documentary footage of war atrocities, violent destruction and concentration camps.

The score, written by the much-loved Soviet composer Mikael Tariverdiev, sparkles from the opening scenes; its light-hearted tone takes us through the story of young friends and the difficult journey ahead of them.

For this specially commissioned performance, London-based singer-songwriter Douglas Dare will perform a new musical work inspired by Tariverdiev’s score on piano.

Generations: The Student

Thursday 27 September 2018


2016, dir. Kirill Serebrennikov

Rebellion not through dress or music, but by strictly following the religious text.

Set in contemporary Russia, a high school student becomes convinced the world has been lost to evil. He rebels not through dress or music – but by interpreting the Bible’s code of conduct as rigidly as possible.

His strict orthodoxy comes up against various forces, including the high school’s priest and his biology teacher – a young woman who advocates liberalism and sexual education at school. As the conflict between them develops, things become not as they seem.

Based on a recent play by German dramatist Marius von MayenburgThe Student allegorically depicts how the once persecuted Russian Orthodox Church has gained new power and become a defining characteristic of Russian identity, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Currently under house arrest for allegations of masterminding a fraud involving state funding, Kirill Serebrennikov is one of the most prominent theatre directors, founder of The Gogol Centre (Russia’s leading avant-garde theatre in Moscow).

Generations: Tough Kids

Friday 28 September 2018

Barbican, Cinema 2

1983, dir. Dinara Asanova

Are bad boys beyond help? What is the nature of teen crime?

These are the questions that director Dinara Asanova asks as she investigates the lives of young offenders and the people around them in Soviet society. Her interest in realism is clear in the opening scene – a documentary-style interview with boys about good and evil.

The story follows a former athlete and graduate of the Institute of Physical Education who decides to help reform young offenders by setting up a summer camp, believing he can help the teens by setting a good example.

A Kyrgyzstani-Soviet film director, Asanova’s films explore the social conditions in the Soviet Union, the world of adolescents, and their strained relations with adults. Asanova was outspoken about social issues even before perestroika, and yet none of her films were banned. They were successful and popular in Soviet Union but remain largely unknown to Western audiences.

Generations: A Severe Young Man

Saturday 29 September 2018


1935, dir. Abram

Room A young communist, Grisha, falls in love with a woman married to a rich, world-famous surgeon. Written by one of the great Soviet modernist writers, Yury Olesha, the love triangle brings bourgeois and communist ideologies into collision – exploring what it is to be young in a new society.

Banned for deviating from socialist realism and discovered only in the ’60s, this unconventional film veers towards the surreal at times. Chiselled communist athletes laze before classical statues and architecture, discussing the new morals set by the Soviet Revolution.

Vilnus-born Abram Room was a founding father of Soviet Cinema along with the likes of Eisenstein, Kuleshov. Whereas his early works were driven by the avant-garde, his later films move towards more conventionally formed narrative, offering profoundly insight on social change.

Generations: Brother

Saturday 29 September 2018


1997, dir. Alexey Balabanov

Bruising realism brings to life the story of a restless and naïve young man in lawless post-Soviet Russia.

This 90s cult classic is centred on the iconic figure of Danila Bagrov (Sergey Bodrov Jr.) as he leaves the army, arriving in St. Petersburg to meet his brother. Blazing Russian rock music serves as a fitting soundtrack to his descent into crime and immersion in the city’s nightlife.

An atmosphere of hostility and emptiness arose in early post-Soviet Russia, as the fallen regime was replaced by monumental chaos, crime and poverty. Gangsters and musicians ruled, and brute force became the most valuable commodity.

Brother profoundly captures this mood – it became a huge hit in Russia and resonates with each new generation. The film, and its protagonist, have become an inspiration for young people, although many feel this is for the wrong reasons, with the film being accused of inadvertently promoting neo-nationalism.

Director Alexey Balabanov saw himself as the ‘anti-establishment rock’n’roller of Russian film’, telling stories about the dark underbelly and decay of early post-Soviet society.

Generations: Lenin’s Guard

Sunday 30 September 2018


Soviet Union, 1965, dir. Marlen Khutsiev

Meandering through everyday life of the Moscow new intelligentsia, Lenin’s Guard conjures a rarely seen vision of Soviet youth, as liberated children of WWII.

The film is notable for incorporating New Wave elements: non-actors and non-staged scenes, including documentary footage of a poetry evening by Yevgeny Yevtushenko and other prominent Soviet poets living in Moscow at that timeas well as a party scene with a young Andrey Tarkovsky.

The Thaw was unprecedented time when many great writers emerged and the poets were like modern-day pop stars, holding their poetry readings in packed stadiums. Led by Nikita Khrushchev, the era was characterised by new enthusiasm about Socialist society and its achievements.

Marlen Khutsiev is a Georgian born film-director best known for his cult films encapsulating the mood of the Thaw.

Would You Look at Her; How Does the New East Look at Its Women.

Wednesday 31 October 2018

Barbican, Cinema 2

Coming directly from this year’s festival circuit, New East Cinema’s selection of shorts tracks the ways in which women’s lives are affected by Eastern state ideologies.

In the 20th century, Communism claimed that it had ‘solved the feminist problem’. In theory, all people were equal, and women, as men, were seen as tools of labour to serve the Party. But in the Soviet society, women remained just as marginalised – only that now they were expected to provide labour along with their patriarchal roles of housewives and mothers.

In the New East states today, prejudices of gender roles are still vital, both in society and the government. In those states, ‘would you look at her’ is a sentence uttered regularly. It is a disapproving sigh against female behaviour that somewhat contradicts societal expectations.

With this programme, we delve into the worlds of women who refuse to be framed with such prejudice. From arranged marriages to centuries-old patriarchal traditions, and the oppression of female desire.

Films in this Programme:

Would You Look At Her

Macedonia 2017 Dir Goran Stoevski

In the way she carries herself, 18-year-old Aneta barely differs from the boys. Because of this and an uncomfortable cell phone recording doing the rounds, she and her only friend are mocked as ‘lesbians’. Meanwhile, her family faces money troubles that force her to take on roles that will lead to further bullying.

Kazakhstan 2015 Dir Elnura Osmonalieva

Young Seide lives in a secluded Kyrgyz village with her family and her horse, her closest companion, before her parents announces that they have arranged a marriage for her. The impending marriage casts another terror – Seide’s family decides to kill her horse as part of a traditional wedding celebration.

Eight Images From The Life of Nastya Sokolova
Russia 2018 Dir Alina Kotova, Vladlena Sandu

One of the many overqualified Russian graduates who struggle to find a job after studying, Nastya is a qualified journalist who dreams of becoming an actress. With the surreal use of eight static shots, this unusual documentary is simultaneously an intimate window into a young woman’s world, and a symptomatic portrait of a whole generation.

Russia 2018 Dir Igor Poplauchin

Trapped in the normalcy of her everyday life, a middle aged woman temporarily escapes her ordinary life and embarks on a secret journey. Lying to her family, she covers her traces until she reaches her final destination – the centre of a woman’s innermost desires.


*This session has been locally classified by the City of London Corporation

Words by Teodosia Dobriyanova